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Can a Wife Force Her Husband to Move Out?

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 16 Nov 2017 |
 
Divorce Separation Grounds Family Home

Q.

My daughter in law has decided she no longer wants to be married to my son (for no good reason other than she is fed up). They have 3 year old twins. He is a fantastic father and does not wish to leave his home (that he jointly owns) and boys. Has she the right to make him leave prior to any legal separation or divorce?

(J.S, 6 July 2009)

A.

I was saddened to read that your son is in this situation with his wife and two young children. As for the question of whether your daughter in law has the right to tell your son to leave – the answer in short is no. Your daughter in law would need to get a solicitor, and go to court to obtain an order to force your son from the family home.

Valid Grounds for Divorce

You have mentioned that your daughter in law is merely ‘fed up’. This is not a valid ground for divorce unless your son was willing to accept that the marriage had irretrievably broken down. There are five ways that this can be proven:

  • One spouse has committed adultery
  • One spouse has behaved unreasonably
  • One spouse has deserted the other for a minimum of two years
  • Both spouses consent to separation and have remained separated for at least two years
  • One spouse has decided to separate from the other spouse (without the other’s consent) for a minimum period of five years.
As your daughter in law may soon discover, it isn’t merely a matter of becoming fed up and deciding unilaterally to bring the marriage to an end.

Children and the Family Home

If your son decided that his marriage had become unbearable so that he chose to leave voluntarily, that would not have any effect on his ownership of the property – he would still be the joint owner.

In the event that your daughter in law does decide to pursue divorce proceedings, the court has wide ranging powers in relation to visitation rights and what happens to the family home. If the worst does come to the worst, your son has legal rights in relation to maintaining contact with his two children.

Marriage Help

It may be worth suggesting (obviously without wanting to look as though you’re interfering) that your son and his wife could try to address their problems, either by approaching Relate (www.relate.org.uk) or another marriage guidance service. Using this type of service is not a sign of weakness in a marriage, rather that the two people involved are adult enough to want to work together for the sake of their marriage and their children. If your daughter in law has left it until she is ‘fed up’ with the marriage before telling your son she feels this way, they may as a couple benefit from improving the way they communicate with one another.

I really hope that your son and daughter in law can address their issues without having to resort to separation or divorce.

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[Add a Comment]
Me - Your Question:
My husband has asked me to leave the marital home and go back to my parents home. I told him I will never leave without our children. He answered that I can take the kids and leave. He even said he will pay for our plane tickets.He said that if I don't leave, he will, meaning I can't pay rent and bills as I work part time.I work for his company leaving also means losing my job. If we get divorced would that harm my chances to get custody of the kids?

Our Response:
You have as much right as your husband to stay in the marital home. You will be able to claim child maintenance from your husband if you separate and you become the main primary carer for your children, please see link here . It sounds as though you are both going through a tricky time. However, it is always best to try to resolve these issues with the chidlren's best interests in mind. So, if you can both sit down and discuss what is best for you both and the kids rationally, this will serve you all better in the long run.
DivorceResource - 17-Nov-17 @ 12:50 PM
My husband has asked me to leave the marital home and go back to my parents home. I told him I will never leave without our children. He answered that I can take the kids and leave. He even said he will pay for our plane tickets. He said that if I don't leave, he will, meaning I can't pay rent and bills as I work part time. I work for his company leaving also means losing my job. If we get divorced would that harm my chances to get custody of the kids?
Me - 16-Nov-17 @ 7:44 PM
JB - Your Question:
My husband has decided after 30 years of marriage he doesnt want to be married any more and refuses to let me into the home he owns. We previously had a house in joint names and sold this, but before we purchased another one he decided he wanted to live apart. He gave me a proportion of the money from the home we sold but not half of it, I have my son aged 14 and daughter aged 20 living with me who are both in full time education, I have bought a house but cannot afford to keep it as he only contributed toward my son. Can he stop me and the children going back to live in the house he owns?

Our Response:
Regardless of whether your ex's name is on the house, you are still entitled to a claim on it if your marriage has been a long one. You are also entitled to live in this house if you are married. However, you would have to seek professional legal advice regarding this matter.
DivorceResource - 9-Nov-17 @ 12:05 PM
My husband has decided after 30 years of marriage he doesnt want to be married any more and refuses to let me into the home he owns. We previously had a house in joint names and sold this, but before we purchased another one he decided he wanted to live apart. He gave me a proportion of the money from the home we sold but not half of it, I have my son aged 14 and daughter aged 20 living with me who are both in full time education, I have bought a house but cannot afford to keep it as he only contributed toward my son. Can he stop me and the children going back to live in the house he owns?
JB - 8-Nov-17 @ 2:17 AM
@Rose - I think I'd think of yourself for once. If your husband is angry and controlling then he can obviously sort himself out. If you can't get him out, have you thought of moving out yourself? New start and all that!
Megan - 6-Nov-17 @ 2:28 PM
My husband is cold, and angry. He is abusive verbally on a daily basis and he is unkind to my children who are mostly grown now.We have been together twelve years and he has been this way for 11.5 of those years. The verbal abuse and anger is nearly constant with a few occasional good moments. My health is not great and sometimes he is helpful to me. The bad outweighs the good by far and my entire family and all my friends want me away from him. Sometimes I will tell him I want to separate and he threatens to do spiteful and cruel things to me. I would not be able to defend myself. Here is the major problems. 1. He won't leave on his own.We rent so no owned house. 2. He has only a small retirement pension as even though I am handicapped I am the only one working. He would have nowhere to go. Despite how badly Iwant out. I feel bad for him. I know I am messed up from having an abusive father and my husband is 28 years older than I am. Are there agencies that can help him get a place to live? if I knew he would have a place he could afford as he is elderly I would feel better getting out. Tired of being abused and want out.What can I do?
Rose - 4-Nov-17 @ 10:56 PM
My husband is cold, and angry. He is abusive verbally on a daily basis and he is unkind to my children who are mostly grown now.We have been together twelve years and he has been this way for 11.5 of those years. The verbal abuse and anger is nearly constant with a few occasional good moments. My health is not great and sometimes he is helpful to me. The bad outweighs the good by far and my entire family and all my friends want me away from him. Sometimes I will tell him I want to separate and he threatens to do spiteful and cruel things to me. I would not be able to defend myself. Here is the major problems. 1. He won't leave on his own.We rent so no owned house. 2. He has only a small retirement pension as even though I am handicapped I am the only one working. He would have nowhere to go. Despite how badly Iwant out. I feel bad for him. I know I am messed up from having an abusive father and my husband is 28 years older than I am. Are there agencies that can help him get a place to live? if I knew he would have a place he could afford as he is elderly I would feel better getting out. Tired of being abused and want out.What can I do?
Rose - 4-Nov-17 @ 10:23 PM
Socrates - Your Question:
My son is going through a difficult time on his marriage. His wife has asked him to leave the house for a few days to give her space to think. He has agreed to do so, but we are concerned that she could accuse him of abandoning the family home. Could this have an impact upon his rights as co owner of the property?

Our Response:
Much depends upon whether he moves back in (he has the rights to live in the house if he is married and co-owns the property). Much also depends upon whether they have children and what they agree to do long term. Due to the many variants, it makes it difficult to advise specifically, please see CAB link here for more information. CAB also offers an informative leaflet if you wish to know more, please see link here.
DivorceResource - 24-Oct-17 @ 11:19 AM
My son is going through a difficult time on his marriage. His wife has asked him to leave the house for a few days to give her space to think . He has agreed to do so, but we are concerned that she could accuse him of abandoning the family home. Could this have an impact upon his rights as co owner of the property?
Socrates - 23-Oct-17 @ 10:06 AM
I am at the end now. I have been married for 7 years together for 11. My husband is vile to my daughter. It has all came to a head several times and I told him I want a divorce. He doesn't believe me. He says I keep threatening to leave him! In a last attempt to save things I asked him to go to marriage counselling and he agreed but I feel this is just a waste of money. The counsellor has even told him that he is the problem. There is no reason for him to dislike my daughter he just does! It is apparent that he is jealous of the relationship I have with her as we are very close and he is trying to push her out of the house! In the 2 months of counselling he has spoken to her 3 times! Only once was friendly the other 2 were to tell her to do things! I can't just walk out of the house as I have nowhere to go. My family live over 500 miles away. Would I be able to get him to leave the house while the divorce and everything goes through, oh and I don't think he will take kindly to being asked to leave.
Broken - 24-Sep-17 @ 7:54 PM
My wife has threatened to leave me on a number of occasions. On several occasions she has locked me out of our family home. My wife has anger issues and during one argument she attempted to kick me out of the house. She was physically trying to remove me and I pushed her away from me. Although she was not physically hurt she called the police claiming she was assaulted. I was arrested that night and spent the night in a cell. The following day she withdrew her allegations and i was released without charge. Now she has locked me out from our home and tells me if I return she will call the policefalsely claiming she feels threatened. If anything, and apart from that single occasion, she has always been the aggressor. I miss my child and know that my wife will struggle to cope without me around. And that ultimately will have an effect on our child. The arguments start form unreasonable demands that she makes. Where do I stand legally about returning to my home? I know she will make a scene in front of my child and neighbors if I come home. Any help or advise would be appreciated
enough now - 18-Sep-17 @ 4:44 PM
Zerous- Your Question:
My wife wants divorce as it's not working. We have 2 young children together.She can't get help to move out. So wants me to. I own property and she never paid any bills Inc mortgage.I work full time so she has to look after children. She states she will give up house when kids old enough. Where do I stand. If I do move out. Paying mortgage on house and then whatever renting costs?

Our Response:
This is a rather precarious situation and one that you are recommended getting legal advice for. Firstly, because you are married and theoretically assets are considered joint, regardless of who is paying the mortgage and bills. If your wife is the primary carer of your children, then she is classed as doing as equally an important job with regards to the family, albeit unwaged. If you owned the property prior to marriage, then it 'may' be classed as a non-marital asset (depending upon the length of the marriage i.e if the marriage has been short, then the less claim your wife will have). However, the fact you have children together means that a court will always decide upon what it thinks is in the best interests of your children and can rule to allow your ex and children to remain in the house until they finish full-time education. Therefore, getting some professional advice will help you to explore your options as you could end up paying the mortgage, rent and child maintenance.
DivorceResource - 18-Sep-17 @ 12:02 PM
My wife wants divorce as it's not working. We have 2 young children together. She can't get help to move out. So wants me to. I own property and she never paid any bills Inc mortgage. I work full time so she has to look after children. She states she will give up house when kids old enough. Where do I stand. If I do move out. Paying mortgage on house and then whatever renting costs?
Zerous - 15-Sep-17 @ 4:23 PM
GoodParent - Your Question:
I've lived with someone for over a year and had a child and within a year married. We later had a second child. All whilst at the address. My wife has a prior daughter whom is problematic and it had been the sole basis of marital breakdown as my wife allows her daughter and her mother dominate our relationship. Since such issues my Wife expects me to leave family home and have our two children 50/50 and has asked for house keys of which I retain. Many of my personal effects are at marital home. I own another property that was paid off 10 years before we got involved and has never been somewhere my wife has resided at any time or has no claim of. and my wife expects me to remove tenant to suit her continence and myself to reside there. But my opinion is simply why should she make demands that soley suit her child and her mother and upsets my children.

Our Response:
Much depends upon who is the day-to-day primary carer of your children (i.e who cares for the children the most). If, for instance the matter went to court (which can occur when parents cannot come to a suitable arrangement) then the court’s main concern is the welfare of the children in question (i.e your mutual children). The court will always put your children’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order. The issue here is not about your wife's daughter (she is 19 and classed as an adult), but your children and what is best for them. The court will always opt for consistency, routine and the least possible domestic upset to your children. It stands to reason that if you have two houses and your wife has been the main day-to-day primary carer of the children, then your children remain in the house they are accustomed to and have grown up in. If you are to have 50-50 shared care of your children, it seems like an even decision. However, if you still think the decision should be otherwise you may wish to seek legal advice and/or contemplate suggesting mediation to your ex in order to try to resolve your issues without having to go to court.
DivorceResource - 31-Aug-17 @ 2:01 PM
I've lived with someone for over a year and had a child and within a year married. We later had a second child. All whilst at the address. My wife has a prior daughter whom is problematic and it had been the sole basis of marital breakdown as my wife allows her daughter and her mother dominate our relationship. Since such issues my Wife expects me to leave family home and have our two children 50/50 and has asked for house keys of which I retain. Many of my personal effects are at marital home. I own another property that was paid off 10 years before we got involved and has never been somewhere my wife has resided at any time or has no claim of. and my wife expects me to remove tenant to suit her continence and myself to reside there. But my opinion is simply why should she make demands that soley suit her child and her mother and upsets my children.
GoodParent - 30-Aug-17 @ 3:48 PM
my wife always picks fights with me thenthreatened to call the police on me she has allredy calld the the police on me me andi am due am interviwe and also threatened me of kicking me out off the house wichis on my name can she do dat ? i also want her to move wich she refused how can i gt her to move ? we have 1 child and she is 7 months pergnet
danny - 10-Jul-17 @ 1:01 AM
Please could you give me some advice. I have been married 17 years and have suffered domestic violence in that time. I have only just recently the last couple of years rang the police when there has been an incident. He has received a caution. I live in my council house which is solely in my name and has been since starting the tenancy. My marriage has now completely broken down, I have asked him to leave but he won't. Can I now throw him out !!!
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MARTHA - 28-Apr-17 @ 9:53 PM
ONE BROKEN HEARTED D - Your Question:
I live in my farther in laws house and have a tenancy agreement which is in my name and my wifes name I have been married for 6 years with two children who are 6 & 10 in that time my wife has called the police on me 3 times the latest episode was last week her reason being that I am violent and abusive towards her I have never been so and yes and there is no evidence to the fact yes we do argue and say some nasty things but I don't consider that to be violent or abusive most couples argue from time to time.I am a house husband since I lost my business in 2015 and was made bankrupt the same year I keep the house tidy and take my children to school and pick them up make sure they are fed clean and happy while my wife goes to work and when she comes home have dinner ready for her I am also main carer for our youngest so who has learning disabilities.My wife has told me I have to leave the house as she does not want to be with me anymore I know and realize my marriage has broken down and cant see anyway back but I love my children too much and don't want to leave them and just be a part time farther I am also concerned with my wifes mood swings as she has been nasty towards the children and her dad who lives with us this has been going on for some time both myself and her dad has asked her to go and get some counselling for these mood swings but she refuses to do so my wife holds down a very responsible job but when she comes home she is totally different due to her mood swings I also have no where to go and no where to live if I have do go but my farther in law tells me he would not make me homeless and I don't have to leave.Could you advise me on my rights in this situation or point me in the right direction to get some help.Yours hopefully one broken hearted dad

Our Response:
I cases such as this, it’s always better if you and your wife can come to some agreement about the way forward. For instance, who will live in the house, who will become the primary carer of your children, who is going to take care of your children if your wife has to work. In principle, if you are both on the tenancy agreement, then you both have rights, please see CAB link here. If your relationship has no way of getting back on track, then trying to talk the situation through rationally with your wife should help, and if you cannot agree on a solution then mediation may be an option to consider. On another note, if your wife has called the police regarding alleged domestic abuse then she can apply for an occupation order. An occupation order temporarily excludes someone from their home, but your wife would need to show the court that it's appropriate for you to be excluded. For example, she may have to show that there's a risk of harm to her or your children, please see CAB link here. It is best all round that the situation doesn't come to this as it could also affect future access to your children, if domestic abuse becomes/is the cause of your separation. You may wish to take some legal advice. The Citizens Advice Bureau may be able to help.
DivorceResource - 25-Apr-17 @ 10:27 AM
I live in my farther in laws house and have a tenancy agreement which is in my name and my wifes name I have been married for 6 years with two children who are 6 & 10in that time my wife has called the police on me 3 times the latest episode was last week her reason being that I am violent and abusive towards her I have never been so and yes and there is no evidence to the fact yes we do argue and say some nasty things but I don't consider that to be violent or abusive most couples argue from time to time . I am a house husband since I lost my business in 2015 and was made bankrupt the same year I keep the house tidy and take my children to school and pick them up make sure they are fed clean and happy while my wife goes to work and when she comes home have dinner ready for her I am also main carer for our youngest so who has learning disabilities . My wife has told me I have to leave the house as she does not want to be with me anymore I know and realize my marriage has broken down and cant see anyway back but I love my children too much and don't want to leave them and just be a part time farther I am also concerned with my wifes mood swings as she has been nasty towards the children and her dad who lives with us this has been going on for some time both myself and her dad has asked her to go and get some counselling for these mood swings but she refuses to do so my wife holds down a very responsible job but when she comes home she is totally different due to her mood swings i also have no where to go and no where to live if i have do go but my farther in law tells me he would not make me homeless and i don't have to leave . Could you advise me on my rights in this situation or point me in the right direction to get some help . Yours hopefully one broken hearted dad
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prrocket121 - 7-Apr-17 @ 12:57 AM
Hi my wife won'ts me out of hour coucel home I have four kids with her . But I do not won't to leve my home and my kids. I have full time job and pick kids up cook for them and clean the house as she at uie or as a lot uie work to do . I have no were to go and I will miss my kids so much what what do I do
Maxie - 31-Mar-17 @ 11:08 AM
Broken - Your Question:
My husband has been using heroin for 2 years and I have had a very hard time coping with his many relapses. He has been in and out of rehab 3 times. But no change. He steals all the money for drugs, I am the only one working. He signs checks over to himself, returns anything I buy and uses the cash for drugs, he has pawned every valuable thing we own. Everytime he says this is the last time. I have forgiven him and given him many chances, but now I am ready for him to leave. But he won't. Can I make him leave?

Our Response:
It can be incredibly tricky to force a spouse to leave your property if they refuse to go. Your only recourse would be to seek legal advice in order to request he is officially removed by the courts. You don't say if you have children, but if you do the courts will make a judgement upon what is in your children's best interests.
DivorceResource - 3-Mar-17 @ 10:21 AM
My wife just wrote me a letter saying she wants to separate. She says if don't respond she is going to make arrangements for me to leave by the end of april. My name is not on the house, but we have children together. Can she legally have me removed from the house .
Billy - 3-Mar-17 @ 4:51 AM
My husband has been using heroin for 2 years and I have had a very hard time coping with his many relapses. He has been in and out of rehab 3 times. But no change. He steals all the money for drugs, I am the only one working. He signs checks over to himself, returns anything I buy and uses the cash for drugs, he has pawned every valuable thing we own. Everytime he says this is the last time. I have forgiven him and given him many chances, but now I am ready for him to leave. But he won't. Can I make him leave?
Broken - 2-Mar-17 @ 4:15 AM
Hi, My wife use to tell me to get out from her house (she is govt employer and the house has been alloted in her name). But from many months i was keep ignoring. every other time she use to tell the same thing in more stonger way. One day she told me you have to go from her house and i Denied. The she call 4 person from her department and all the person start saying me to leave.I told them that i will not leave without my child (only one child male 9 yrs old) I have called 100 (police) and police came and asked few question to my wife and my son. Then they told that they can not do any thing in family matter. They left. Since the examination of my son was going on. All the person who was called by my wife told me to leave the house for 15 days just think about your child future. and after 15 days all will sit and take decision. And i have left the house. I have locked one room also in the house. Can you please advise me how to proceed from here? She is also not ready to keep my father and any one can not visit as a guest to her home. She is keep saying that she can not live with me and she want me to go. What to do now?
sanj - 15-Feb-17 @ 11:37 AM
I have bought my husband out of the house and he has a charge on the property to get a % when I sell.We have a decree Nisi but no Absolute yet.Can I give him reasonable notice to leave or does he still have the right to be there?
Mel - 26-Jan-17 @ 10:44 AM
Nana - Your Question:
My daughter in law told my son she is filing for divorce this was three weeks ago due to pressure and arguments my son moved in with me two weeks ago , my son has two young sons which he hasn't seen having found out he does not have to out of the marital home , yesterday he moved back so he could see his sons , but his wife left taking the two boys with her my son does not know where is wife is staying or where his boys are what legal right has he got to know where is boys are ?

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. If your son's ex does not get in touch, then your son would have to apply through court for both access and for the court to put a trace on his sons. He would need a C100 form in order to apply for contact to his children and a C4 form, which is an application for an order for disclosure of a child's whereabouts. Of course, it would be a lot easier, less stressful and more cost-effective if both parents could come to an amicable agreement out of court. However, this is not always the case and your son may wish to seek some legal advice.
DivorceResource - 19-Sep-16 @ 11:49 AM
My daughterin law told my son she is filing for divorce this was three weeks ago due to pressure and arguments my son moved in with me two weeks ago , my son has two young sons which he hasn't seen having found out he does not have to out of the marital home , yesterday he moved back so he could see his sons , but his wife left taking the two boys with her my son does not know where is wife is staying or where his boys are what legal right has he got to know where is boys are ?
Nana - 18-Sep-16 @ 12:04 PM
Andy - Your Question:
My wife has had an adulterous affair after 34 years of marriage whilst I was taking care of my 91 year old mother's needs over 100 miles away for 9 days of every fortnight. The affair has been going on for only 8 weeks, but I suspect they have been communicating on facebook for around 4 years. She has suddenly decided to live a completely different bohemian life and has just moved out of the family home into rented accommodation. My question is : can she enter the jointly owned family home at will and remove property from the house? I noticed things had gone missing while I was away from the house. I don't mind her having access to the house, but I think I should be given some notice and a list of items she wishes to take beforehand.

Our Response:
I think in this case it is best to talk to your wife about this and try to come to an agreement. One option is to change the locks, but this could lead to your ex either applying through court for an occupation order, or asking the police police to accompany her to the house while she removes items that are hers. However, I imagine this might be the last approach you wish to take. If you are planning on dividing the contents of the house, then perhaps you could ask that rather than she take the items, that you both agree to split the contents between you. There are plenty of ways around it, but in answer to your initial question, yes she is allowed access to the house that is jointly owned by her, but at the same time if she is living elsewhere then she should allow some respect to your privacy and for this you'll have to ask. If she won't agree, then you may have to seek legal advice on your rights over implementing some of the more strident measures above.
DivorceResource - 6-Jun-16 @ 11:45 AM
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